Give a man a fish, they say, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Sorry—this saying is all wrong.
When a person is starving, that’s not the time to fill their head with knowledge. The right thing to do is to first give the person a fish—banishing their hunger—and only then teach them to fish.
Far too often, people ignore this common sense first step. They see someone who is struggling, and they rush to offer wisdom. “Let me tell you what I’d do in your position,” a well-meaning individual might offer.
But few of us understand the anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty that comes with overwhelming need. People in the midst of personal disasters are reeling. They can’t think straight. Their nerves may be shot. Their confidence may be non-existent.
Rushing to offer a struggling person long-term advice is a waste of time.
Instead, it makes far more sense to help them regain their equilibrium. Once this happens… once their ears, heart, and mind open, then you have an opportunity to teach a new skill.
Want a better understanding of empathy? Read this short piece I wrote: https://goo.gl/H11UBq